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SARS fight not over in China

Businesses in New York's Chinatown are struggling economically due to SARS fears.
Businesses in New York's Chinatown are struggling economically due to SARS fears.

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Public facilities are closing in Beijing. (April 27)
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SARS FACTS

Suspect case: A person who develops high fever (greater than 38 C / 100.4 F) and respiratory symptoms such as cough, breathing difficulty or shortness of breath, within 10 days of

1) having had close contact with a person who is a suspect or probable case of SARS.
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2) having traveled to or resided in an affected area.

Probable case:  A suspect case with chest X-ray findings of pneumonia or respiratory distress syndrome.

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- The worst of the SARS outbreak is over in Canada, Vietnam, Singapore, and Hong Kong, according to a top WHO official, but the fight is far from over in China.

China's Health Ministry reported 203 new cases of SARS -- including 96 in Beijing -- Monday, and eight more deaths. The WHO says Chinese authorities must do more to inform and protect the public about the virus.

The disease, which began in southern Guangdong province, has killed 59 people in Beijing and China has reported 3,106 cases in total.

The WHO cited some Asian governments for their work in containing SARS.

"The governments (in Canada, Vietnam, Singapore, and Hong Kong) have reported cases, and we see in each of these areas, the case reports are decreasing and becoming more stable so we believe the epidemic may have peaked there," Dr. David Heymann, the WHO's executive director of communicable diseases, said Monday.

The WHO congratulated Vietnam for being the first nation to contain severe acute respiratory syndrome.

"Such success can be attributed to a range of factors, but the most important were the speed of action, leadership and transparency shown by the government," WHO representative Pascale Brudon said Monday. (How Vietnam beat the bug)

Disinfection efforts in Singapore, however, could not prevent 21 deaths from the disease.

The WHO says more than 321 people have died from SARS worldwide in nearly 30 countries.

In Beijing, in addition to at least three hospitals, several buildings, including some on university campuses, as well as a construction site were sealed off in five areas of the city.

More than 7,500 people remain quarantined, but there is little information about whether there are confirmed SARS patients at those locations, or just suspected cases.

Shanxi Province and Inner Mongolia have both reported growing numbers of probable cases, indicating that the disease is spreading in northern China.

Meanwhile, New York City's health department revealed that an international tourist was held involuntarily for 10 days in a hospital in New York after showing mild symptoms of SARS.

The tourist went to an unidentified hospital with a fever and flu-like symptoms and had stopped in Hong Kong on his way to New York.

The tourist was released after 10 days, in accordance with the department's guidelines. It is not known if he actually had SARS, since there is no test for the illness.

Health officials have praised Vietnam's speedy response to SARS.
Health officials have praised Vietnam's speedy response to SARS.

Caseloads have been dropping in Canada, where there have been no cases reported outside of a hospital in 12 days.

"We certainly hope to be in the clear very shortly," Dr. Sheela Basrur, Toronto's medical officer of health, said.

"At 20 days, we can officially declare this over, but so far the signs are pointing very, very positively."

Mainland China and Hong Kong have been hardest hit, together accounting for more than two thirds of the global death toll.

Taipei announced the first SARS-related death in Taiwan Sunday and said that all mainland-Chinese and Hong Kong travelers arriving on the self-ruled island must be put on a 10-day quarantine. (Taiwan gets tough)

Over the weekend, health ministers from around Asia met in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to hammer out a battle plan against SARS. (Full story)

Hong Kong said Monday five more people had died there from the virus and another 14 had been infected, taking the toll to 138 dead and 1,557 cases.


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